The impact of biopolymers will always depend on the biopolymer in question as each biopolymer will have its own unique production process and biodegradation process. The most clear factor for the growth of the biopolymer market is the environmental factor of the products.

There are three main factors for the success of a biopolymer: raw products are plentiful and renewable, the technology is low impact and the products are biodegradable.[1]

Conventional plastics use fossil fuels are the basis of product and their processing as well as their leaching. This is hazardous to the environment as well as people. On the other hand, raw products for biopolymers are widely available from all plant life and microorganisms, which makes them very accessible to the industry at a low cost. As they are already biodegradable in a natural setting their availability to biodegrade after processing is already assured. Most of the processing of polymers from natural sources is utilized using benign technologies, such as water solvents instead of hazardous organic solvents. This lowers the environmental impact of the product. [1]


With the increased resistance to oil and gas production from environmental groups there will come a time when the private and government sectors will be forced to utilize alternative materials to produce the plastics we use today. We are already seeing this effect on a small scale in the form of biodegradable shopping, garbage and compost bags; biodegradable food containers and loose fill packaging. These are just few examples of items that are already biodegradable. There will come a time when the technology as advanced far enough and the market place is ready that everything from cell-phones to car parts to building materials will be biodegradable.

Inverse_Cost.png

Figure 1[1] : The inverse cost of materials that are extracted directly from their naturally occurring sources, relative to starch.

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  1. ^ Stevens ES. 2002. Green Plastics: An introduction to the new science of biodegradable plastics. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.